The University of Limerick has awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science to former Ireland rugby captain Paul O’Connell. He is pictured with his wife Emily, children, Lola (1) and Paddy (5) as he prepared for the conferring ceremony. Photograph: Alan Place/Fusionshooters.

He may give the orders on the rugby pitch but Paul O’Connell insists team-mates will not have to call him ‘Dr Paul’ following his conferring with an h(...)

David Campese breaks for Australia during the 1991 Rugby World Cup semi-final. Australia beat New Zealand 16-6. Photograph: Getty

Next Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand should prove a fitting climax for what has been - bar home nation disappointme(...)

New Zealand centre Conrad Smith has said South Africa represent the All Blacks’ ‘ultimate rival’ ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup smei-final at Twickenham. Photograph: Getty

New Zealand centre Conrad Smith has described World Cup semi-final opponents South Africa as the All Blacks’ “ultimate rival.” The southern hemisphere(...)

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw with France’s Thierry Dusautoir. “If there wasn’t a certain Richie McCaw running around during the same period, Dusautoir would be seen as the dominant guy who has played rugby in that position over a long period,” says New Zealand coach Steve Hansen

A confession: in 2007, embittered after being denied the chance to cover a World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff, I checked out from faux reality to e(...)

Munster’s Doug Howlett is tackled by Scott Waldrom of New Zealand in their 2008 match: “I don’t think I felt more alive in a match.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Every wannabe David, with understandable trepidation, is already lining himself up against a rugby Goliath. New Zealand against Namibia. Australia (...)

Doug Howlett says teams prepare for playing the All Blacks as though they were approaching a final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Opinion isn’t always kind to New Zealand. A win in the first World Cup in 1987 and again in New Zealand in 2011 has been slim pickings for a team regu(...)

Australia players celebrate at full time of their 2003 Rugby World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand. Photograph: Getty

The 2003 World Cup progressed in such a way the final was always destined to be contested by the cream of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, wi(...)

Doug Howlett believes Joe Schmidt can be Ireland’s trump card at the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Inpho

There was a period in Rugby World Cup history where the narrative for the All Blacks read like it had been ripped from the pages of a ‘penny dreadf(...)

Luke Fitzgerald:  “It was a no-brainer to have the surgery.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald is 18 days into rehabilitation following shoulder surgery for an injury that dates back to a tackle on former Munster and New Zealande(...)

Munster’s Billy Holland wins a lineout in the Guinness Pro12  game against Ulster at Thomond Park, where the north and south terrace was closed. Photograph:    Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Perception is, perhaps, everything. Coming hard on the heels of defeats to Glasgow and a second-string Ulster at the tail end of last season were l(...)